Badshot Lea co-manager Gavin Smith says his side don’t fear anyone after confidently sweeping aside Combined Counties Premier Division South leaders Raynes Park Vale 4-0 at Westfield Lane on Tuesday night.
Jack Dean, Dan Walster, Mal Thomas and George Frise scored the goals as the second-placed Baggies closed the gap to the league leaders to two points. Craig Bradshaw saved a penalty late on to secure the clean sheet.
“I said before the game we needed a reaction from last Tuesday and usually the lads always give us a reaction,” said Smith.
“I’m pleased in a way the Sheerwater game was called off on Saturday because I knew we would react and Saturday might have taken the sting out of midweek.
“I had a really good feeling – I wasn’t nervous. I knew the lads would put in a performance.
“It was a big game for us – obviously if they beat us you can say goodbye to winning the league, but those three points puts us closer to them. We’re also ahead of Jersey by a good distance.
“I felt on the balance of play we outworked them. Everyone put a shift in. We missed a couple of chances but we can’t ask for any more from them.
“To work like that week in, week out is the challenge – which is hard because it’s sometimes easier when you’re playing a team at the top of the league, when there’s something riding on it.
“We need to believe there’s something riding on every game – it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you have to turn up and put in those performances and be on top of your game. If we do, we’ll beat anyone.
“There was a real intensity and that comes down to the players, it’s not down to us. We can scream and shout, we can be nice, but it’s all down to them on the day. If they want to turn up and do it, they’ll beat teams – that’s how well we can play.
“If you’re willing to do more than the other team, things will go for you.
“When the game’s that quick, you have to compete. You’ve got to be really switched on and fully focused.
“Tane Caubo worked his socks off. He had two good chances – he’ll be disappointed with the header which could have put us out of sight earlier, but you’re not going to take every chance. He put in a real shift for the team and did exactly what we asked and was a real pest. He did well.”
Smith is now hoping the Baggies are finding their best form heading into the crucial run-in in the race for promotion.
“We had a break over Christmas and January and we came back and played Alton and I didn’t see us losing a game – I thought we are right on it and we’re better than anyone in this league,” said Smith.
“Then we have had a little drop off, which always happens. We’ve had a little spell where we’ve lowered our standards, and it was good to get back on it.
“We’ve got to do it every game. There are nine games left – this is the crunch time when you get down to single figures and you start ticking them off, and before you know it you’re down to five games and then teams can’t catch you.
“That’s what we’ve been building for. We want to be in that top two – whichever way round it is, we have to be there. That will be our success this year, if we can get in that top two – either winning it or getting a play-off, that’s what we wanted to achieve.”
Next up for the Baggies is a trip to fellow high-fliers Abbey Rangers in the Combined Counties Premier Division South on Saturday (3pm), and Smith is expecting a tough test for his side.
“Abbey are used to being up there this season – they’re a good, strong side,” said Smith.
“It’s another tough one there – Abbey are never easy. They know how to play in this league. They’ve some good players, but if we turn up we don’t fear anyone.”